Different Cat Behaviors And Their Explanation

Published on 02/07/2019
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Having a cat is a super rewarding experience. You know that a buddy will always wait for you at home, plus owning a cat actually has health benefits like decreasing anxiety and stress. Even though there’s still a lot that we don’t really know about cats, we are actually getting closer to understanding their behavior and why they do the things that they do. Read on to learn more about some of the weirdest behaviors cats have to gain some insight into the mind of your furry friend.

Different Cat Behaviors And Their Explanation

Different Cat Behaviors And Their Explanation

Bumping Their Face And Rubbing Up Against Something

Many people know that cats bump their face into people’s legs or forehead, though when a cat head-butts you, they aren’t starting a fight. Quite the contrary, experts believe a cat head-butts someone to say hello and it’s a gesture which says the feline trusts the person and feels safe with them. What’s more, when a cat rubs up against something, they pass on pheromones from their body and mark the thing (or person) as safe or trusted. Experts call this behavior bunting.

Bumping Their Face And Rubbing Up Against Something

Bumping Their Face And Rubbing Up Against Something

Talking With Their Eyes

You may notice that your cat makes many gestures with their peepers and apparently, this is among the ways they can communicate. If a cat stares at you, it usually means they’re trying to catch your attention. However, if the stare is especially intense, it’s possible that it’s a sign of aggression, and the best thing to do is not to stare back. In contrast, when a cat looks at you and slowly blinks, they are showing their affection.

Talking With Their Eyes

Talking With Their Eyes

Laying Down Across Stuff

Sometimes, you try to type up an important report or read a book, but your cat comes to you and lays down on whatever it is you’re working on. Regardless of what you do, your kitty just won’t leave your stuff alone. The reason cats do this is since they see you’re giving your computer or book your attention, but they also want the attention, so they try to separate you and the thing that is getting it. It’s also possible that they want to get their scent on your stuff to mark their territory.

Laying Down Across Stuff

Laying Down Across Stuff

Ignoring Calls

Everyone knows that cats are smart and in fact, they recognize their name as well as their owner’s voice, though unlike dogs, your kitty most likely doesn’t come to you when you call them. This is partly due to the fact that a cat likes to show affection when they want to and not when you want them to. They know their owner is calling them, but they’d only respond if they are interested in attention during that time. No need to worry, though, since it isn’t out of spite and when it wants to play, your cat will certainly come to you.

Ignoring Calls

Ignoring Calls

Kneading With Their Paws

One of the first instincts of newborn kittens is to press the mammary glands of the mother cat while drinking her milk since this action stimulates the production of more milk. This kneading motion remains with cats even when they’ve grown up and have stopped drinking milk from their mothers. An adult cat does this because it associates the soft surface (or sometimes your body) with their mother’s comforts. A lot of behaviorists think a cat does this if it feels content and happy or if it wants to relieve stress.

Kneading With Their Paws

Kneading With Their Paws

Smelling A Person’s Face

Suddenly, your kitty’s nose is up on your face and your pet is sniffing your breath, your nose, and your hair. Even though it may feel weird, cats do this since all people have unique scents. Your cat can get a good whiff of your unique natural smell by smelling your face, so it does this to look for your familiar scent. Your kitty is reassured that it’s actually you and not another human whom they don’t trust, which allows the feline to relax more.

Smelling A Person’s Face

Smelling A Person’s Face

Munching On Things

If a cat chews on plastic and things which are not food, it might be suffering from a condition called Pica. Experts aren’t sure about what exactly causes pica, but they think it can be caused by anxiety and stress or by nutritional problems. One of the ways that cats deal with anxiety is by chewing on things which aren’t food, but this can also be harmful to the feline’s digestive system. If your cat is chewing on non-food items a lot, it’s best if you take it to a veterinarian.

Munching On Things

Munching On Things

Chattering Teeth

You’ve most likely heard your cat chattering its teeth, making a quick and intense sound when it saw birds perched by the window. Experts aren’t exactly sure of the reason behind cats doing this, but they’ve got some fair guesses. Some experts suppose that cats produce this sound because they feel frustrated not being able to reach the birds through the window even though they really want to catch them. Other experts think that it’s the cats’ natural instinct as they warm up their muscles to get ready to chase their prey.

Munching On Things

Munching On Things

Sticking Their Rear End In A Person’s Face

Sometimes, you really want to hug your kitty but they turn around and lift their tail, giving you a complete view of its rear end. Even though it’s certainly disgusting when a cat lifts its tail and sticks its back end into your face, the feline is actually displaying its trust and affection. If a cat lifts its tail, it’s actually opening up to you and being friendly. Thus, in spite of this view not being the most pleasant, this back end presentation can be taken as a compliment!

Sticking Their Rear End In A Person’s Face

Sticking Their Rear End In A Person’s Face

Rolling Around On The Ground

Cats lie down on the ground and roll around for a variety of reasons, but they only do it if they feel comfortable since being on their backs and baring their tummy is one sign of vulnerability. A cat may do this just because they want to scratch their back or stretch their muscles, or the kitty may be trying to get your attention to play with you. A feline may also do this to mark their territory since rolling around helps them get their scent on the surface.

Rolling Around On The Ground

Rolling Around On The Ground

Wailing At Night

At night, cats are usually awake and active. If they have too much energy, they may run around and start wailing while you sleep. These cries could mean that the cat is attempting to catch prey in the house, or they might be crying out of frustration if they cannot find any insects or mice. If these cries bother you, try playing with your kitty during the day so that you tire it out and it’s less active during the night.

Wailing At Night

Wailing At Night

Hiding In Small Spaces

Chances are, you’ve found your kitty curled up in a sink, box, or other small spaces despite the fact that there are a lot larger and more comfortable spots in your home. Doing this actually makes them feel safe. It wouldn’t be safe for a cat to be exposed in an open area in the wild, so they’ve developed the instinct to keep out of view in small holes and caves. Even though they aren’t in actual danger inside your house, they feel safer if they squeeze into some tight spot.

Hiding In Small Spaces

Hiding In Small Spaces

Running Around The House At Top Speed

Sometimes, you hear some strange noise, and your cat suddenly comes careening into the room really quickly. Cats have plenty of energy and because they don’t hunt anymore, they need to release it in some way. House cats become restless seeing as they don’t have enough room to run around, which is also why they release their tension through a burst of activity, such as sprinting around the house at top speed. If you notice that your cat has been doing this a lot, try playing with it more so that it gets an opportunity to pounce and run and use up the excess energy it has.

Running Around The House At Top Speed

Running Around The House At Top Speed

Bringing People Things

To be honest, it’s quite shocking and gross when your cat brings you a lifeless mouse but your kitty’s heart is in the right place. Mother cats bring food to their babies, so your cat probably learned this from its mom. Also, if a cat gives you food, it’s most likely accepting you as part of its group. Your kitty may have also brought you a gift in order to show its gratitude for the care you’ve given it, but it’s possible that it’s simply looking for attention.

Bringing People Things

Bringing People Things

Sprawling Out Their Legs

Your cat can look quite silly while it lounges around with legs sprawled out but it just means that it feels safe, comfortable, and relaxed with you in the room. Your kitty is showing that it trusts you which is why it’s resting cozily. If a cat exposes its belly to you, it means you aren’t perceived as a threat and it is actually a sign of vulnerability. Therefore, if your cat frequently does this, you can feel good knowing that it most likely means it is content.

Sprawling Out Their Legs

Sprawling Out Their Legs

Covering Up Their Droppings

It is a cat’s instinct to cover their droppings in the litter box after they do their business. Cats do this in the wild in order to prevent predators from finding their scent and avoid getting kicked out of the group by the other cats. If a cat just leaves its droppings without covering it up, there might be a problem. Possible issues include the feline’s distaste for the box type or litter, accessibility or location, anxiety or stress, or even a problem with the health of the cat.

Covering Up Their Droppings

Covering Up Their Droppings

Moving Their Ears

Cats can communicate not only with their eyes but also with their ears. If you notice your cat twitching its ears back and forth, this usually means it is agitated or anxious and it’s best to be careful around your kitty in this state. On the other hand, if a cat points its ears forward, it means that it is content and feeling good. Be careful if your cat’s ears are pointing backward or laid flat on its head because this is can mean the cat is feeling scared, defensive, or irritated.

Moving Their Ears

Moving Their Ears

Messing With Your Feet

You’re sitting on the couch, just watching television and minding your own business when suddenly something furry pounces on your feet. Although this can be pretty surprising, your cat isn’t actually showing aggression, rather it is only trying to play and it is practicing its jumps and pounces. Most cats are quite playful and whenever they get bored, they look for a game. You can interest them in a piece of string or toy instead if you’d like your cat to stop messing with your feet.

Messing With Your Feet

Messing With Your Feet

Sleeping A Lot

When kittens sleep, their body releases growth hormones which are vital for their development. This is why young cats sleep so much, more than adult cats. However, don’t worry if you notice that your grown-up cat sleeps all the time – it’s their instinct to doze off in order to save energy, which is a trait they’ve acquired from when they needed to use a lot of energy to hunt for their next meal. It is easy for cats to fall asleep if they have nothing to do or if they’re bored, so if you’d like your kitty to be awake more, then play with it.

Sleeping A Lot

Sleeping A Lot

Pressing Their Head

Occasionally, cats will obsessively press their heads on a hard object or wall for no apparent reason. Sometimes, this strange behavior comes with vocal sounds which the cat doesn’t usually make. If you observe your pet doing this, you should bring it to a vet to get checked out since this is not normal behavior. It’s often a sign that the nervous system has some damage caused by trauma, poisoning, a tumor, or other causes.

Pressing Their Head

Pressing Their Head

Purring On Different Occasions

Many people find it satisfying when they hear their cat purr while they’re petting them but apparently, purring is not that simple and scientists don’t know as much about it as other cat noises. Yes, it can mean the cat is satisfied and happy but it can also have plenty of other meanings. Cats purr to communicate but they also do it to calm themselves down whenever they’re feeling stressed and anxious. The vibration that accompanies the purr actually soothes them and it can calm their owners as well.

Purring At Different Occasions

Purring At Different Occasions

Tagging Along To The Bathroom

It can be quite weird when your kitty runs in the bathroom right after you go inside and it stays right next to you. Although scientists don’t really have an explanation as to why cats do this, they do have a few guesses. Some experts suppose that your cat feels vulnerable when you aren’t around, so it goes with you in order to feel safe, while other experts think that cats are just curious animals who would like to know what’s happening. Perhaps cats know that they will have your attention and you’ll be a captive audience while you are in the bathroom.

Tagging Along To The Bathroom

Tagging Along To The Bathroom

Swishing Their Tail

Unlike dogs, when cats wag their tails they aren’t feeling good and happy. Most often, a cat that is swishing its tail is an unhappy kitty that would rather be left alone. The back and forth swishing of its tail is a sign that your cat is annoyed, so it’s best not to bother the feline. However, if your kitty is twitching its tail, then it usually means it is paying close attention to something that it is really interested in.

Swishing Their Tail

Swishing Their Tail

Hissing At Something Or Someone

Most people know it would be best to move away if cats hiss at them. Yes, cats hiss when they are feeling angry, but they also do it when they are agitated or afraid. Also, if a kitty feels threatened by another animal or a person, it will often hiss too. If your cat begins to hiss, you shouldn’t get too close, rather let it calm down since it will probably be back to its usual self within a few minutes.

Hissing At Something Or Someone

Hissing At Something Or Someone

Batting Things

You’re minding your own business, sitting peacefully, when suddenly your kitty shoots out a paw at your glass of water and knocks it off the table, watching the glass fall to the ground. Actually, there are a lot of YouTube videos showing cats doing this, many times over and scientists say this is just a way for cats to practice hunting. Cats in the wild play with their prey and batting things is quite good practice for hunting. In addition, cats are naturally curious animals as well and they easily get bored, so it’s possible they are just trying to start a game or get your attention.

Batting Things

Batting Things

Not Doing Their Business Inside The Litter Box

It’s quite gross when your kitty leaves its droppings outside of the litter box, though this can be a sign that your cat has a problem. Perhaps it’s not so keen on the litter box, its location, or the litter itself. If this is the problem, try swapping the litter box for another. However, another possible reason your cat is doing this is because it has a medical problem – it might not be in the best health which is why it fails to do its business inside the litter box despite knowing that it should.

Not Doing Their Business Inside The Litter Box

Not Doing Their Business Inside The Litter Box

Going Crazy For Catnip

Catnip doesn’t really look special seeing as it’s just a leafy plant that is related to mint, but why do a lot of cats go totally nuts if they smell it? Well, catnip has nepetalactone, an oil which stimulates sensors found in the nose of a cat. This reaction gives about 70% of cats hallucinogenic experiences and a feeling of great joy and while the feline is under catnip’s effects (which lasts around ten minutes), they may roll around, salivate, run, and make noises. Interestingly, catnip seems to affect big cats, such as tigers and lions, as well.

Going Crazy For Catnip

Going Crazy For Catnip

Nail Biting

Usually, anxiety or simply a bad habit causes people to bite their nails and with cats, the reason can often be the same. Nibbling on its nails could be a sign your kitty is nervous or even just bored but it can also be doing it to thoroughly groom itself. However, if a cat excessively chews at its nails, a checkup might be needed since sometimes, a sign of an infection or parasite is nail-biting.

Nail Biting

Nail Biting

Sleeping On You

Your cat falling asleep on your chest can be really comforting and as a matter of fact, it’s quite comforting for your feline as well – that’s usually why it does it. Cats enjoy the warmth of our bodies while they sleep and our warm chest might be the most comfortable spot for them. It makes them feel secure – your cat feels safer sleeping near you and perhaps it likes your own unique scent and your breath’s movement as well.

Sleeping On You

Sleeping On You

Biting People

No one wants their cat to bite them, but there are different reasons if it does. Sometimes, it bites because it is trying to tell you that it is stressed or angry, or it might be scared and this is how it defends itself, or perhaps it just wants to play with you. If they are in the wild, cats can bite as a way to express themselves, and the habit remains with them. If your kitty does bite you, simply say “no” to it firmly, and then walk away.

Biting People

Biting People

Sneaking Around The House

Sometimes, you may notice your cat sneaking around your home, slinking between furniture and slyly running around corners. Since they aren’t in the wild and there isn’t anything to hunt, seeing them do this can be a little strange. However, the explanation is in the genetic code of cats as they are naturally sneaky and sly animals, and they exhibit this behavior. What’s more, cats sometimes use these sneaky tactics because they want to get something, such as scraps of food or some attention.

Sneaking Around The House

Sneaking Around The House

Chewing On Grass

It may seem strange if your kitty grazes on grass but there’s actually nothing to worry about it and your four-legged friend might actually benefit from it. Since cats can’t digest grass, it makes them throw up, which clears out their digestive tract and makes them feel better if they’re having digestion problems. What’s more, grass contains folic acid, a vitamin which cats need in order to be healthy. Therefore, if your kitty is munching on grass, simply make sure that it’s chewing on something non-toxic.

Chewing On Grass

Chewing On Grass

Pawing At Water

In spite of the common belief that says cats hate water, it isn’t completely true. In fact, some love water and if you see your kitty pawing at its water dish, it may simply be engaging in some play time. However, other cats prefer to drink water that is fresh moving and when they start splashing around in their water bowl, it’s possible they’re trying to aerate it, giving it the bubbling spring effect or water that is fresh from the tap.

Pawing At Water

Pawing At Water

Making A Little Meow

When a cat meows, it isn’t simply making noise for fun – it’s trying to talk to you! It might be attempting to tell you an important thing so you should pay attention. An adorable little meow often means “hello” or your kitty is trying to get your attention. If a feline goes to you meowing like this, you might want to rub its head and back or pet it because a very happy kitty will thank you with its love.

Making A Little Meow

Making A Little Meow

Meowing Loudly

If a cat meows loudly, it usually wants something. Oftentimes, a kitty meowing loudly is hungry and is asking to be fed. It’s also possible that the reason a cat is meowing this way is if it’s stuck somewhere or it wants to come in or get out of the house (if it’s an outdoor cat). Sometimes, cats will make this sound if they are sick or lonely, so if there is no other explanation why a cat is meowing continuously, then it might be a good idea to have the feline’s health checked.

Meowing Loudly

Meowing Loudly

Standing On Their Back Legs

Cats look silly if they stand on their back legs, but this behavior actually has an explanation related to evolution. When a predator confronts cats in the wild, the felines would stand on their hind legs to make themselves appear bigger and ward off the threat. Standing back is the best course of action if your kitty stands on its back legs and appears to be acting defensive. However, it isn’t always bad news if cats are standing on their hind legs because sometimes, they do it just to get a treat.

Standing On Their Back Legs

Standing On Their Back Legs

Scratching Stuff

There are cat owners who have horror stories of coming home and finding out their couch has completely been torn apart by their scratching cat. To prevent this from happening, many cat owners purchase scratching posts for their pets. You might be wondering why cats do this but scratching is actually normal behavior that has several causes – it is a way to mark their territory since it deposits their scent, it removes their claws’ uncomfortable dead layer, and stretching their claws and bodies feels good for them. However, if your kitty is destroying your stuff, try getting a scratching toy for it.

Scratching Stuff

Scratching Stuff

Stretching Many Times

You may notice that your cat does more stretching than you do. Just like you, they do this after being inactive for some time in order to increase their blood pressure and get their blood flowing, to push out toxins and unhealthy substances in their muscles, and just to feel good. Since cats sleep a lot, they need to do a lot of stretching too. If they do it in front of you, it means they feel comfortable and safe and they trust you.

Stretching Many Times

Stretching Many Times

Landing On All Fours

Cats are well-known for being able to land on their feet when they fall. Since their spine includes extra vertebrae, they have a pretty flexible backbone which allows them to twist their body when they’re falling. In addition, they have light bones and bodies, an impressive sense of balance, and thick fur that help slow their fall. Amazingly, this behavior is ingrained in the genetic code of cats and they learn how to right themselves while they’re falling at just six to seven weeks old!

Landing On All Fours

Landing On All Fours

Raising Their Back End While You Pet Them

If you’re in the middle of petting a kitty and it raises its rear end in the air all of a sudden, it can be pretty surprising. However, when a feline does this, it means that it likes the attention it is getting. Usually, if a cat raises its back end, it means it’s enjoying the massage because you’ve hit the perfect spot on its back. It’s a compliment when a kitty does this, and you’ve effectively made yourself a furry friend.

Raising Their Back End While You Pet Them

Raising Their Back End While You Pet Them

Curling Up In A Tight Ball While Sleeping

If it’s cold out, sleeping in a tight ball is a great way for a feline to keep warm. In addition, when a cat is in slumber, it is the position that is safest because it makes sure the animal’s organs and belly are protected. In the wild, a cat could only stay warm and safe this way, so even if you give your pet a soft cushion, a lot of cats still instinctively curl up during the night.

Curling Up In A Tight Ball While Sleeping

Curling Up In A Tight Ball While Sleeping

Itching

When you see your cat itching itself, it’s not the best sign seeing as cats rarely itch. This includes obsessively licking or scratching at its own fur. What can cause this symptom is skin irritation, parasites, or other health conditions.

Itching

Itching

Excessive Water

If you notice your cat drinking more water than usual, it could be something concerning. A lot of cats simply enjoy drinking water, but like many pets, they mainly drink when you’re around. Another reason could be the type of food you’re giving it. If it’s on the dry side, it makes sense for your cat to drink more to hydrate themselves. However, if you’re still worried, trust your instincts and take your cat to the vet. Over-hydration can indicate problems like diabetes, and kidney problems, among other things.

Excessive Water

Excessive Water

Over Grooming

Over grooming can come in various forms and levels of severity. Not to mention that it can be caused by several factors as well. In some cases, over grooming is a behavioral issue. It basically means your cat is over grooming itself to relieve stress. If this condition isn’t treated and stopped, it can lead to severe hair loss and irritation to its skin. On the other hand, over grooming can indicate a medical problem that is developing. Whichever it is, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with your vet.

Over Grooming

Over Grooming

Tail Curled

When your cat is curving its tail around your arm or your leg, it’s a very good sociable sign. It’s more or less an equivalent to holding hands. This is a sign of real trust, love, and friendship. Meaning that your cat has bonded with you and you are officially part of its pack.

Tail Curled

Tail Curled

Covering Food

Some cats like to cover up their food bowl, and you might be wondering why. This is an instinctive behavior that stems from wild cats. They tend to keep their food safe from others. Another way of protecting its food from anything that could take it is by scratching around the food bowl after eating or even find shredded paper to cover it up.

Covering Food

Covering Food

Eating Plastic

Cats seem to have an infatuation with plastic. Especially plastic bags. If you don’t catch them in time, they can eat it. Kittens might chew on just about anything when they’re teething and they may not have developed a liking for the texture of plastic yet. Also, the bag might simply taste good to your cat. Either way, plastic is a serious choking hazard for cats. It can also cause intestinal obstruction, so you might want to discourage this by giving your cat safe chew toys.

Eating Plastic

Eating Plastic

Eating Plants

Despite not being herbivores, houseplants are appealing snacks to your cat. In the wild, cats occasionally eat some greenery. Make sure to only buy plants that aren’t toxic to cats, and plan a way to keep the cats away, like adding pinecones to the planters or using double-sided tape that makes it a bit difficult for your cat to reach the plant.

Eating Plants

Eating Plants

Love Of Counters

If you’ve ever had a cat, you know how much they love countertops. They like to sit and lay on the cold surface day in and day out. Cats like to be at your height, and they also like to have a clear view of the entire room…it only makes sense why they adore counters!

Jumping On Counters

Love Of Counters

Your Water Is My Water

Cat owners know not to leave unattended glasses of water within reach of their critters. Cats love clean water, which is probably the reason they opt for yours. To deter your furry friend from drinking from your cup, make sure their water is as clean as can be…you’ll thank us later!

Drink Your Water

Your Water Is My Water

A Funny Sniff Face

When a cat smells something interesting, they usually make a strange face with their mouth open as they breathe out of their mouth, instead of their nose. They do this to bring the smell to their Jacobson’s organ where they can analyze the scent better.

Funny Smell Face

A Funny Sniff Face

Nap Time On Your Head

Many cats enjoy sleeping directly on their owner’s heads, ever wonder why? Your body heat usually escapes from your head, your cat knows this better than anyone! They love to be warm, so it only makes sense they know exactly where to go!

Sleeping On Head

Nap Time On Your Head

I’m A Baby

Ever notice that your cat acts a lot like a baby? Well, it does make sense, they do communicate with you through listening and imitating, just like a baby does. Funny enough, when humans speak to animals, usually dogs and cats, we usually speak to them in a baby voice, with soft vocalization and simple words.

Baby Talk

I’m A Baby

Lick Lick

Cats are known for their excessive licking, they eat, sleep, poop and lick! They actually lick themselves to get human’s scents off of them. But don’t get offended…it’s a natural instinct! They also clean themselves by licking, and as we all know, cats like to be squeaky clean.

Licking Itself

Lick Lick

Beggers

Cats are quite the beggers, “please more food, please more love, please this, please that”. Although their begging can become quite relentless, don’t give in to their pleading eyes by sticking to a feeding schedule and ignoring the behavior altogether!

Begging

Beggers

Speedy Gonzalez

We all know that cats are quite quick creatures, but did you know that they’re as fast as Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt? His top speed is the same top speed as a house cats. Pretty impressive, to say the least!

Speed

Speedy Gonzalez

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